THE Dragons may have given Irish heavyweights Leinster a scare but boss Dean Ryan was frustrated rather than proud.

The Rodney Parade region came agonisingly close to a huge upset in the United Rugby Championship when Sam Davies kicked a pair of penalties to make it 7-6 in the closing stages in Newport.

The Dragons had shown resilience, especially when down to 13 men because of yellow cards for Lewis Jones and Josh Lewis, to stay in the contest against a Leinster side hunting a fifth title on the spin but couldn’t quite burgle the spoils at the death.

They took a consolation bonus point from a fixture that was expected to be a drubbing but there was no celebrating by Ryan.

“We are more disappointed [than proud] now, we are moving out of the phase where trying to keep the score down against Leinster is seen as a positive,” said the director of rugby.

“We are frustrated that we didn’t play very well in the first half and that was compounded by having people in the bin.

“When we did solve some of our platform problems we looked quite dangerous and the frustration was that we probably could have gone on to win the game.

“You never quite get clear-cut chances against Leinster so have to keep trying to build pressure.

“Sometimes our naivety was that we thought there should have been something there, but when you play a side that good there isn’t anything there, you just have to keep building.

“The momentum was with us at the end and we probably made some poor decisions to hand it back to them.”

South Wales Argus: Dragons boss Dean RyanDragons boss Dean Ryan

The Dragons did frustrate a Leinster side who are usually ruthless in the 22, limiting them to a solitary close-range score by number eight Max Deegan in the first half.

“Our defence is something that is going really well,” said Ryan. “Talking to some of the lads, Leinster is the team that has stressed us the most in terms of the pace and the accuracy that they can play at.

“They guys didn’t feel stressed or out of control, which is the feeling Leinster can give you.

“There was the period when we went down to 13 men that was a bit hairy and we were lucky they made some errors in that window, because you’d expect them to score, but it wasn’t easy to handle in the first half and the rain probably got us through it without conceding.

“I remember Glasgow at Principality Stadium last thinking they could just hold the ball – we went through 20-odd phases – and that either physically they’d get over us or we’d make an error.

“That’s not happening anymore and people will get confidence from those moments.”

The Dragons have provided some reason for optimism but are two defeats from two after being edged out by the Ospreys on opening weekend.

Next up is a tough clash with Connacht in Galway as they bid to end a 22-game winless streak against the Irish provinces, and win at the Sportsground for the first time since the first season of regional rugby.

“Both games we could have won but we didn’t and we have to face up to that and those tough conversations about where we are and the growth of the group probably comes from them holding those conversations themselves,” said Ryan.